After going through the beta stage, Apple is finally ready to publicly release iOS 11.4 which brings with it AirPlay 2 and multi-room capabilities for the HomePod smart speaker.
- Apple AirPlay 2: Everything you need to know about Apple's new streaming tech
- Apple HomePod: Everything you need to know
Multi-room audio was a feature that was oddly missing from the HomePod when it launched, especially since rival speakers from the likes of Amazon, Google and even Sonos had the functionality. Apple promised it would eventually come to the HomePod via a future software update, and that is now the case, as owners can go into the Home app and update it.
Along with multi-room audio, following the software update you can now pair two HomePod speakers together to create a stereo pair. This could be especially useful if you stream audio from an Apple TV, as a HomePod duo would provide a decent soundtrack to movies from iTunes.
Multi-room audio is made possible thanks to the release of AirPlay 2, the latest version of Apple's wireless streaming platform. It was first announced at WWDC in 2017, so has taken a whole year to launch, but it will bring a number of notable improvements over the previous version.
The biggest change is multiple and independent speaker control. The speakers you stream music too will need to support AirPlay 2 - a full list of supported manufacturers can be found here - but if they do, you can control individual volumes - you can only stream the same song to all speakers - rather than all having to have the same volume. It's a feature that was already available on Mac, but has been missing from iOS.
Other features within iOS 11.4 include Messages in iCloud, meaning if you delete a message on an iPhone, it will now be deleted on your other connected Apple devices. Apple's latest iOS update will also add a USB Restricted Mode, which will disable the Lightning port after seven days of inactivity to prevent any data from being extracted by security companies.
You can check in your iPhone's settings to see if the iOS 11.4 update is available for you to download and install now.